Login Register

Plans to hold elections every four years for Cheltenham borough councillors a step closer

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 11, 2013

  • 'important': Rob Garnham

Comments (6)

ELECTIONS to find borough councillors in Cheltenham could take place every four years as part of a plan to cut the cost of democracy.

The number of councillors represented on the authority could also be cut as part of the shake-up.

Elections are currently held in the town every two years but many councillors have bemoaned the system as being "democracy in instalments'".

They have pointed to possible savings of around £25,000 a year by moving to a longer cycle.

A motion was put before a meeting of the full council on Friday afternoon by Councillor Rob Garnham (C, Park).

The leader of the Conservative group said: "It's important that we do go to four yearly elections and look at the cost of democracy.

"The Government has done it and the county council has done it.

"The borough council has said that the £25,000 it would save a year by doing this is relatively small but it's not. Let's act with speed and get this decision made." Councillor Tim Harman, who has been fighting for the shift, said he wants to give the people of Cheltenham the best option.

He added: "I believe it would strengthen democracy because it gives the electorate the chance to change administration.

"We elect our Parliament and our European Parliament in one go, rather than having democracy in instalments."

The issue of reducing the number of councillors who sit on the borough council has been rumbling on for many months.

While some have advocated cutting the number of members in half to 20, concerns have been raised that such a number would be unworkable for staffing committees.

The Boundary Commission has said it would be unlikely to consider plans for anything less than 30 councillors.

Should any reduction take place, the Boundary Commission would be charged with redrawing the borough's ward boundaries to ensure each councillor represented a fair number of voters.

Councillor Steve Jordan, leader of the council, said: "The important question is what sort of council Cheltenham needs.

"That's the starting point – not can we scrap a couple of elections to save some money."

A report on the possibilities will be presented to full council next month.

Read more from Gloucestershire Echo

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters


  • eyeopener  |  February 11 2013, 11:53PM

    Sounds great. Lets cut the cost of councillors and save ourselves a few pounds on the way! Enter the law of unintended consequences. You need your local councillor to help you urgently but the councillors can't because they now have a much larger workload than before; and you have to join a queue. The Tories think it's great because anything that cuts taxes makes them richer, and because they can afford expensive solicitors to fight their corner. It's everyone else who are the real losers.

    |   1
  • Bonkim2003  |  February 11 2013, 5:58PM

    Lecorche - such things attract few takers - the consultation (not referendum) on change over to cabinet government from the committee system in the Forest of Dean attracted around 800 responses - the car parking charges attracted a petition with over 7,000 - but the parking charges were imposed regardless and the committee replaced by a cabinet which has put paid to democracy. Believe it or not - it was the previous government's local government bill that ushered in these changes. Now a referendum on changing the electoral system in Cheltenham - few will understand the nuances.

  • Scorpio2010  |  February 11 2013, 11:56AM

    @by EllJay1 - It used to be that a government could sit for no longer than 5 years but call an election at any time within that period. The current government, which is not democratically elected, has decided to change the rules to suit its own purposes.

  • Scorpio2010  |  February 11 2013, 11:04AM

    When politicians talk about "improving democracy" I get worried as it usually means anything but. @Lecorche - spot on!

    |   1
  • EllJay1  |  February 11 2013, 11:03AM

    Also a very expensive way, Lecorche. If general elections are held every 5 years, why not 4 yearly for council elections.

  • Lecorche  |  February 11 2013, 10:22AM

    Just run a referendum with the good folks of Cheltenham,to find out if they want the system altered. That would be the democratic way.

    |   3